Obsolescence and Product Lifecycle Management

Beyond Electronics Corp (BEC) offers the unique ability to leverage and integrate expertise in engineering, manufacturing, repair, and logistics support for legacy systems to provide innovative solutions to meet obsolescence demands.

Obsolescence management has become critical to military systems due to rapid technology advancements and to fill the gap between legacy and objective force infrastructures. BEC’s obsolescence management capabilities provide solutions throughout the systems lifecycle. BEC’s range of capabilities, particularly in the areas of reverse engineering and acquisition engineering, enables us to select and execute the most effective resolutions to Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and Material Shortages (DMSMS) challenges.

BEC engineers analyze obsolescence items to locate and analyze similar COTS parts for form, fit, function, and ruggedization to identify potential replacements, and prepare any engineering changes or waivers that may be required to adopt the substituted item. BEC also provides equipment redesign to design out obsolete items via engineering changes at various system levels, to enhance system performance, and improve reliability and maintainability. We also provide for alternate sourcing by developing the specifications and technical data necessary to develop new aftermarket sources to reproduce obsolete parts.

Beyond Electronics provides component and life cycle support for existing government programs where extended life and strict product controls are required. Since Beyond Electronics tailors the support to meet the need of the customers, the actual service offered takes on slightly different forms, but the fundamental items are the same. Following are some of the major items:

  1. Hardware Warranty – Beyond Electronics standard warranty period is 1 year from date of manufacture. However, Beyond Electronics can offer options for various durations or for various starting times. (please see the warranty page for more information)
  2. Software Warranty – the standard warranty for software is 90 days from the delivery of the Acceptance Test Report. As with the Hardware Warranty, this period can be adjusted to meet customer needs. (please see the warranty page for more information)
  3. Product and System support – Beyond Electronics provides product and system support during the development contract and during the time that software is under warranty. For extended support, Beyond Electronics is willing to tailor a support package to meet the program needs.
  4. Long Life Support – there are two major components of long life support: hardware and software. The hardware area is more obvious and generally receives the most attention. This involves keeping hardware in service for an extended period with dwindling part supplies and in some cases with special processes that become difficult to maintain. Software long life support also has many challenges. Since all software sources for a program are archived, the basis of software is easily recovered. However, build environments and build hardware must also be maintained to be able to faithfully reproduce the software. Many times this involves controlling the hardware platform that the software is built on as well as the revision of the operating system, tools and libraries that are used.
    • Software Long Term Support requires a custom tailored contract based on the program requirements and duration.
    • Hardware Product Design Change Approval – Hardware changes can come from a number of places:
      1. Process modifications – improvements to assembly or build procedures that enable a part to be built more reliably, accurately or with generally better results.
      2. Part Changes – modifications required due to changes in part specifications or availabilities
      3. Design Errors/Improvements – any modification to correct a design deficiency in function or with meeting requirements as well as any possible improvements to improve reliability or functionality
    • For most programs Beyond Electronics uses a process involving customer approval before the design is changed. This process is part of Beyond Electronics’ revision control / engineering change notice procedure.
  5. Part Tracking and Notification – Beyond Electronics receives notifications from manufacturers and distributors when parts are about to go obsolete. Additionally, for select parts in active programs, Beyond Electronics actively inquires about supply to mitigate potential future problems. In the event that parts are not available, there are several possible mitigation alternatives:
    • Alternate part vendors – for many generic parts, more than one vendor builds an exact replacement part. This is the preferred substitution part. Following qualification, this part would be added to the approved parts list for possible inclusion in future builds.
    • Alternate parts for approval – This is a part with a different design, but the same or similar functionality. Substituting these parts would require more extensive qualification and would be annotated as a non-preferred part on the approved parts list.
    • Stocking plans – in cases where key parts are going end of life and no alternate vendor exists, an end of life buy may be required. This can also take on several different forms:
      1. Parts stocked at customer site – the customer may decide to purchase the required parts, maintain the inventory and provide the parts to Beyond Electronics as needed for assemblies or repair.
      2. Parts at Beyond Electronics – Beyond Electronics may maintain inventories of parts for difficult to find and/or end of life parts on behalf of the customer. These parts are managed in a fashion similar to Beyond Electronics internal inventory. Reports on value and counts are available to the customer on a pre-defined or ad hoc basis.
      3. Assemblies – for low value products it is often cost effective to stock sub-assemblies. This is generally fully built units without the final metalwork, software load and configuration. These assemblies undergo basis tests to guarantee their veracity.
  6. Product End of Life – unless a key vendor makes a surprise announcement that a key part is no longer available, the end of life of a product should be a planned and orderly event based on program needs, parts forecast and projected costs.
    • EOL Notification – in the event of anticipated conditions that would yield a product unable to be built, Beyond Electronics will provide an end of life notification. This is generally an open discussion point to describe the problem so the customer can be advised and a mitigation risk plan can be put in place.
    • Last Time Buy – when key components become end of life or economics make it impossible to continue production, Beyond Electronics will issue a last time buy notification to inform the customer on the specifics of the last time buy . Since parts are tracked, this will be an agreed upon opportunity for the customer to buy any product required to support the conclusion of a program or in some cases when forecasts are available Beyond Electronics may make a last time purchase in support of the program depending on cost and program requirements.
    • Redesign - Where possible Beyond Electronics offers solutions that require some amount of product redesign and qualification. This is usually to eliminate a part that is unavailable.